Between You and Me, There's PR

Exploring, learning and using social media, public relations and marketing.

Following Your Passion June 15, 2014

photo1 (1)When I accepted a new job in Indianapolis two years ago, I was confident that it was what I was meant to do because I was passionate about social media and had trucking in my blood. I was so proud to do what I did best, marketing; mixed with what my grandpa did best, diesel mechanics and trucking. I felt like he was with me cheering me on along the way.

I would have loved to have been able to talk about diesel with him; trucking is probably not something he ever imagined his youngest granddaughter would build her career on. I am so thankful to of had the opportunity to learn about what made him who he was and what he did to provide for his family- my dad.

Now, I have the opportunity to follow my dad’s footsteps in my career. While still using my marketing skills, I will be doing what he does best: giving back to the community. I look forward to being able to talk to him about what we are doing with our separate organizations and how we are changing the world (well, changing parts of it, at least).

Having the ability to see my grandpa and dad’s passion shine through in my own career means a lot to me. I am lucky to have their influence, and I desire to make them both proud. I suppose it’s fitting that I start my new career the day after Father’s Day. If they hadn’t followed their passion, I wouldn’t have found mine.

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The 5 hats social media pros wear May 7, 2014

social-media-expert hatSocial Media is a new(ish) field that will always be a new(ish) field because of it’s nature to continuously evolve and change. When it was first introduced as a marketing tool, it was just something many marketing professionals added to their job. Today, the position is driven by content creators who happen to be good at many things. Here are five hats social media pros (SoMePro) wear:

1. Writer
Obviously, writing content is a big part of being a social media professional’s job. The SoMePro must write for blogs, Facebook, Twitter, e-books, emails and etc.  Over the last few years, the recommended frequency of sharing content has increased, making the SoMePro’s job more focused on creating content than ever before.

Bad Image Use2. Designer
It’s proven that images and graphics offer better engagement than text alone; therefore, it’s the SoMePro’s job to create captivating images to accompany every message shared. Coming up with a photo or graphic for every message can be daunting, but understanding the difference between when a graphic is necessary or not is equally as important.

I’ve found one news station guilty of not understanding the difference. They have a stockpile of images they pull out for tragedies that personally, I fin inappropriate and annoying. The result? Unsubscribed. The other layer to this is that you must either find royalty free images or create your own. With those circumstances, a little Adobe knowledge goes a long way.

3. Learner
In the number of years I’ve worked in social media, every platform has changed it’s layout, statistics and algorithms. Oh yes, the magical a-word, algorithm. Social media is not something you learn once; it’s constantly changing and there’s always something new. In addition to evolving platforms, new platforms are being introduced everyday. The SoMePro should always be scouring the internet for inspiration, knowledge and best practices.

4. Fixer
The fixer is also known as the good, old-fashioned customer service representative. It is the SoMePro’s job to foster relationships with customers, happy or unhappy. It’s proven to be much more expensive to gain new customers than it is to retain customers, which makes it very important to resolve issues with unhappy customers. Often, simply acknowledging a customer’s concern can salvage a relationship, while thanking a current happy customer can be just as beneficial.

5. Analyzer
While writing is an important piece to social media, there’s no point in writing anything if there is no proof that it is working. There were many claims that social media could not be measured, but that has changed drastically, even in just the last year. It is not that it cannot be measured, it’s that it is measured differently than traditional media. The SoMePro will check the stats on every post, every day, to determine what resonates with customers and look for trends that spike engagement. This information is then used to drive future content that builds a relationship and pushes sales.

Bonus:
6. Detective
The SoMePro is constantly searching the web for every mention of their organization. When a mention is found, it must be evaluated for credibility to determine what action to take. Is it a legitimate issue? Is it an employee posing as a customer? The SoMePro knows how to dig into the data to answer these questions. Something the rest of the world tends to forget is that nothing ever disappears from the Internet; this is what SoMePros call entertainment.

These are just five of the hats SoMePros wear, but rest assured, there are plenty more where this comes from. What would you add to the list?

 

To “we” or not to “we”? November 17, 2013

To we or not to we?You know that moment a friend reveals an annoying habit in your favorite TV character, then all the sudden, you can’t focus on anything else? I did that to myself the other day.

I was sending emails requesting help on a marketing campaign last week and noticed I constantly said “we” instead of “I”, despite the fact that it was originally my idea and I was the only person doing the work. I was not bitter about that part of it, I was excited for my project; I was annoyed with myself for not taking credit for my ideas and work. It was something that I became more conscious of as the week went on and I interacted with others and sent more emails. Why couldn’t I take ownership for a project  that I was proud and excited to initiate?

So, being the word nerd that I am, I began self-reflecting on what I felt was a problem beyond just swapping pronouns. “We” is an inclusive, plural pronoun and involves other people. “I” is about the individual; a person that does something alone. That in mind, I came up with a few theories behind my choice of words.

Theory 1: I truly am a team player. By choosing “we” I am giving others credit and sharing successes together. To use “I” over “we” seems selfish because I did ask someone else a question, which, thereby involves them in the project, no matter how small that seems. I really can’t take 100% credit for something if I am only responsible for 98% of the idea.

Theory 2: By choosing “I”, I take sole ownership of the success or fail of the project. Choosing “we” shows that I am afraid of being responsible, especially if the campaign should happen to fail.

Theory 3: I want to include others to improve my bargaining power. I can succeed better by name dropping, as someone might do to get into a cool club. As a new employee with other teammates all across the nation, the other employees resonate better with a name they recognize and have met, rather than a name they have only seen on a paper or email introduction.

Theory 4: “We” is a vindication for my idea and a reminder that I have support in my project or idea. “I had this idea and we are doing it!”

I’m guilty of each of these. I completely made each theory up, but it’s been helpful to self-reflect and analyze my motive behind my pronoun choice. I realize that I have to be a huge nerd to write an entire blog post about two pronouns, but when I stepped back and considered why I was doing what I was doing in conversations, it opened up my eyes.

Being a team player is definitely a great attribute, but I’d encourage you to do your own self-analysis to discover if you, like me, have a tendency to sacrifice yourself for any of the reasons I mentioned. There are situations in which choosing the inclusive term is appropriate, but I’d bet if you consciously think about whether it’s necessary to include others in your communication, you’d find more opportunities for “I” than you’d think.

I was curious to see if any research had been done on this subject, but had no exact match. I thought someone would suggest my habit was because I am a millennial (the world is hating on millennials these days) or maybe they’d suggest it was because I am a woman. Help ease my mind and tell me what you think. Have you ever noticed that you might be selling yourself short?

 

 

Being Young & Confident at Work February 17, 2013

Filed under: Young Professional — thisgirlsarah @ 7:15 PM
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I don’t always quote Cosmopolitan magazine. In fact, I never have in my life, but this isn’t about makeup and hair, I promise. I was reading my February issue and saw an article titled, “Can Looking Too Young Hurt You at Work?” by Marissa Hermanson. I was surprised that the byline didn’t list my own name because I felt like Marissa was reading my mind.

I recently returned from a week long company-wide meeting in which my age came up at least once a day with various people. My line is always: “Someone has to be the baby of the company, might as well be me!” (cue a great big smile).

Fresh out of college, I feel blessed to be doing exactly what I want for a reputable company. During my interview for this position, I was flat out told that I was the least experienced and youngest applicant they had seen. Why should they pick me?

We have to know what we have to offer and prove again and again that we are (or can be) an asset to the company. The truth is that no one that was teasing me about my age could do what I do. It takes a young person, a millennial who has grown up with social media, to do the job successfully. I have a leg up on my elder counter-parts BECAUSE of my age, but that doesn’t make it any easier to interact with people who see you as inexperienced and young.

My conversations this week weren’t implying that I was too young to do my job, but that doesn’t lift the insecurities I feel sitting in meetings or sharing ideas. It’s still intimidating to be the least experienced/youngest in the room.

I was hired to do a job and was deemed the best candidate to accomplish the job; I must remember that. During our annual meeting we were asked to create a professional development plan for ourselves. I wrote: Be an asset. I have tasked myself with the responsibility to continue learning about the industry, both public relations and my company’s industry. Staying on top of my game increases my co-worker’s confidence in me as well as my confidence in myself.

When it’s all said and done, I just have to remember that someday I’ll appreciate being asked, “Can you even drink?” “Why yes I can, but thank you for underestimating how old I am.” It’s like how as a 21-year-old you don’t want anyone to ask for your ID because you want to look older, but when you realize they actually have stopped asking, you miss it.

For all you twenty-somethings with feelings similar to mine, remember your confidence carries you. You might be young, you might be insecure, but they picked you and you have to own your skills and be an asset to the team.

Before I go, here’s one last Cosmo shout out. Career coach, Rachel A. Keener, wrote these 5 ways to be taken seriously at work:

  1. Consolidate your thoughts-Write one coherent email instead of several short ones.
  2. Sit front and center.
  3. Unplug at key moments- like meetings.
  4. Speak high to low-avoid sounding like you are asking a question.
  5. Volunteer to lead.

Does your age impact your work positively or negatively?

 

Networking as a “Young Professional” January 27, 2013

NetworkingAwkward. That should actually be the title of this post because there is no better way to truly describe the art of networking. During my job hunt, my dad always pushed me to “ask if they want to meet for coffee” and I always replied, “Dad, I don’t LIKE coffee!” Obviously, the coffee wasn’t the point, but I was so deathly afraid of meeting strangers and asking them for help that I thought my dislike of coffee could be my escape.

Like all children, I regretfully write these words: my dad knew what he was talking about. *Shudders*

The thing is, no one else is looking out for you except you. You have to be the one to reach out to others and ask for their help because how else will they know you need it? I’ve been on several meet and greets that were horribly nerve-wrecking, but once there, definitely not awkward. Everyone has done it and everyone is willing to help (including me, so ask away).

I’ve been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, in which he describes people that are good at networking as “connectors.” These connectors are relationship builders and have friends, or rather, acquaintances, in every corner of their life. I’ve also been watching a lot of Downton Abbey recently and would call the entire Crawley family connectors. If they wanted William in the tipping point hospital they simply went through their list of acquaintances to find someone that knew someone that knew someone who can get him in despite the hospital initially telling them no. They’re connectors.

Networking and connecting do not end once you find a job. Connectors are people that network for the fun of it, with no purpose in mind, that’s not to say it doesn’t come in handy in the future. Connectors simply enjoy meeting people and are enlightened by the variety of personalities and stories they encounter. Networking and connecting are not skills that go away when you find your dream job. It’s something that will (or should) follow you through your life.

I am the only person in my company that is in charge of creating our social media plan and have been appointee as the “expert”.  The pressure of that expectation mounds daily with the inconsistency and ever-changing world of social media. It’s hard to keep up and know what the best online strategy is for our company with no other social media focused people to brainstorm with. To overcome this challenge, I realize the need to network and ask questions with others in my field. What a relief it was to find groups like Indy Social Media and Indy Social Talk that I can ask for help and learn from.

I already admitted to being a big chicken when it comes to this sort of thing, so don’t be fooled into thinking signing up for those meetings and walking in to meet a group of strangers was easy. It wasn’t. But it does continue to get easier and I don’t feel like I am on a digital marketing island all alone anymore.

My New Year’s resolution was to step out of my comfort zone and meet people. It’s a big deal for me to practice these networking skills because it is so much easier to go about my day saying hello to people without building relationships, but it’s amazing how much more enriched my life is by learning more about those people I am surrounded by.

I encourage you to give it a try. Set a goal to be a connector and take an interest in everyone. You can even start with me by commenting!

 

Lessons From a Young Professional January 19, 2013

If you browse through my past posts, you will notice the earliest entries tend to be more academic because this blog was originally an assignment for a class during my senior year of college. After graduation, I took a more opinionated approach where I share my opinions of things going on in the PR world. After this post, I will continue to share some opinions of PR, but am excited to be able to share insight to my first year working in the world of public relations, more specifically, social media.

I look forward to sharing these experiences and lessons with you and hearing some of your own. After 9 months on the job, I can promise you I have experienced both success and my fair share of “lessons learned.” I look forward to sharing my journey with you. To start, let me tell you about how I got where I am…

Things I learned during the last two years (AKA post-graduation, AKA life):

  1. Everything happens the way it is supposed to, even when it’s not what you expected.

We had so much fun watching the Colts during the pre-season at Lucas Oil Stadium!

I lied. I only learned one thing, but that one thing was key to sanity on the brinks of what recent graduates call the freshman year of life. Life, the period after graduation where you are expected to find a career and kiss three month long breaks goodbye.

I live in Indianapolis. That’s 4.5 hours from my family and childhood home in St. Louis, 9 hours from both of my grandmas and 7.5 from my Alma mater. This city was not on my list of dream cities to find a job.

I work in social media for a service company. I didn’t even know I was interested social media until my post-graduation internship. After discovering my passion for social media I made another unexpected transition from a demographic of children and moms to mostly male truck drivers.

Can't live in Indy without a visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway!

You can’t live in Indy without a visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway!

But isn’t it funny how things happen? For instance, of all the middle of nowhere places my boyfriend’s company could have transferred him to; they landed him in a city where I actually had potential to get hired. Ironically, all but one of the interviews I landed were in this city I never considered living, making it hard to ignore fate.

And so began the life I never anticipated but can’t imagine not living. I have the privilege of working for a great company that challenges me, allows me to travel and teaches me about, and even to cheer for, motorsports! In addition to work, I’ve found Indianapolis to be a very welcoming city. From sports to restaurants and everything in-between, this transition has been every bit of enjoyable and definitely fun.

Throughout my journey to this official start to life there were many people that offered their help, advice and listening ears. As I continue this blog and share my stories of my experience as a young professional in a new city, I hope that I can offer support to other young professionals embarking on their freshman year of life.

 

 
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